ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It was supposed to take the U.S. Forest Service four years to decide which roads and trails throughout the nation's vast network of forests should be designated for travel by motorcycles, four-wheelers and other backcountry vehicles.
It's been seven years.
From Oregon south to Arizona and New Mexico, forest officials are still struggling to balance the demands of environmentalists, off-roaders and ranchers.
The battle has come to a head on one mesa in northern New Mexico where Hispanics have been ranching and collecting firewood and pinon for centuries.
A state senator and residents of Glorieta Mesa are vowing to take their case to Congress and to federal court.
This week, regional forest officials denied their appeal of the Santa Fe National Forest's travel management plan. They had complained the plan was racially biased and that an influx of off-roaders would threaten their culture and traditions.